As in Flint, Shelton’s poor (you) get Polluted

That’s right, Shelton’s mayor wants you to eat, drink, and breath sh*t!
(See: Shelton sued for turning blind eye to Dioxin contamination)

Shelton may be the cancer capital of Washington State, but Mayor Cronce hasn’t noticed.

In this Jan. 21, 2016 photo, the Flint River is shown near downtown Flint, Mich. Flint’s water became contaminated with lead when the city switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save the financially struggling city a relatively trivial sum of money.

 See: Coverage by King 5 & documentation of Shelton officials dissembling

by Chris Mooney

As national attention focuses on Flint, Mich. — where lead-contaminated water flowed for over a year to a relatively poor, minority community — new research suggests that across the U.S., communities like these are more likely to be exposed to some of the most intense pollution.

In a new paper just out in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, sociologist Mary Collins of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and two colleagues from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and the University of Maryland examined what they term “hyper-polluters”: Industrial facilities that, based on EPA data, generate disproportionately large amounts of air pollution. Then, they cross-referenced the location of these facilities with socio-demographic data from the 2000 census.

The result? “We find striking evidence that extreme emitters are likely impacting EJ [environmental justice] communities even more significantly than typical EJ scholarship might predict,” the study said.

The study adds to a body of evidence showing that the U.S. continues to struggle when it comes to “environmental justice,” a concept advanced by advocates and researchers to describe the reality that poor and minority communities tend to have disproportionate exposures to environmental hazards.

The industrial emissions examined in the new study were reported by close to 16,000 industrial facilities in the continental U.S. as part of the EPA’s toxics release inventory program. The facilities were across a variety of sectors, ranging from mining to manufacturing, according to Collins. They did not include large power plants.

Examining this EPA data, the study found a significant disparity when it comes to how much different facilities pollute. “90% of toxic concentration present in the study area is generated by only 809 (about 5%) of facilities,” the paper reported.

But what was particularly striking was cross-referencing this information with socio-economic data on the people living around the facilities, based on a nationally representative sampling of Census information. The highest polluting facilities were also more likely to be located in proximity to poor and minority neighborhoods.

“It’s certainly not news that minority and low income communities face more than what some would say is their fair share of pollution from industrial sources,” says Collins. “We found that actually, the burden they face from these superpolluters was even more extreme than you would think.”

The work is an advance in the environmental justice field, using big data approaches to underscore a familiar conclusion in a new way, says Andrew Jorgenson, an environmental sociology professor at Boston College who was not involved in the study.

“The substantive argument is something that’s been around a long time, but this is a very sort of sophisticated, methodologically rigorous, and far reaching analysis that provides some generalizable analysis of this occurring across different regions,” Jorgenson says.

“This study is different because it’s looking at the largest polluters, and really focusing in on sort of the most egregious releases of chemical pollution,” says Sacoby Wilson, an environmental health professor at the University of Maryland-College Park who was familiar with the study. “And so what it basically is saying is, you don’t have to look at all the different facilities, if you just look at the superpolluters, the ones that release the most chemical emissions, we see that those facilities are also located in communities of color and poor communities.”

Wilson said that because of this, the new research could help EPA engage in targeted, voluntary programs to help these facilities lessen their emissions, and get a bigger impact than might happen by trying to work industry-wide or nationwide.

The immediate problem in Flint wasn’t about air pollution of the type involved in this study. Rather, it turned on a decision to switch the city’s water supply from Detroit’s to the Flint River to reduce costs. Still, it’s relevant, say Wilson and Jorgenson. “Flint falls into this broad category, a community that is sort of structurally disadvantaged,” Jorgenson says.

“I think what you see in Flint is really going to raise attention around environmental justice issues around the country, and also how you have these other environmental justice disasters that are looming out there,” adds Wilson.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Danes Ripoff War Refugees

‘Morally Horrible’ Law Lets Denmark Take Refugees’ Valuables in Exchange for Asylum

“They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery.”

The Danish Parliament on Tuesday approved a controversial law which allows authorities to seize money and valuables from refugees, as well as delay family reunification—treatment which critics decry as “morally horrible” against those fleeing war and other violence.

“The bill presented by the center-right minority government of prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen was approved by 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats backed the measures,” the Guardian reported.

The law will allow police to search refugees upon arrival and confiscate any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (roughly $1,450) that have no sentimental value to their owner. The bill also includes a measure that raises the waiting period from one year to three before refugees can apply for their families to to join them. It also permits officials to consider an individual’s “integration potential” in resettlement cases, increases administrative fees, and slashes temporary residence permits to two years.

Parliament members justified the action, saying the law “is about creating equality between migrants and Danes,” as the seizures are supposedly intended to cover the cost of each asylum-seeker’s maintenance by the state, which they compare to Danish citizens on welfare benefits.

In its recent report (pdf) on the legislation, the UNHCR said the law is “evidently aimed at conveying a message to make it ‘less attractive’ to seek asylum in Denmark, and is a deeply concerning response to humanitarian needs.”

The report continues:

The signal Denmark’s introduction of restrictions sends to other countries in the world, including the major refugee hosting countries and European countries that need to strengthen their asylum and integration capacity in order to receive higher numbers o f refugees, is worrisome and could fuel fear, xenophobia and similar restrictions that would reduce—rather than expand—the asylum space globally and put refugees in need at life-threatening risks.

“Morally it is a horrible way to treat people fleeing mass crimes, war, rapes,” said Pernille Skipper, an MP and legal affairs spokesperson for the left-wing Enhedslisten party. “They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery.”

In 2015, Denmark accepted roughly 20,000 asylum seekers, or 2 percent of the total number of arrivals to Europe. Earlier this month, the country imposed new security checks at its southern border to stem the tide of migrants.

Authorities in Germany and Switzerland have also begun seizing assets from asylum seekers, which the Guardian said is in keeping with the trend of  “scare tactics and physical deterrents to deal with the biggest migration crisis since the second world war.” European leaders met in Amsterdam on Monday to discuss plans to further restrict the passport-free Schengen zone.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dreaming of a White Christmas?

Ahh, to be young again!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

City of Shelton Sued for Turning Blind Eye to Dioxin Pollution

The notorious track record of Shelton, its Mayor Cronce and his minions when it comes to deliberately exposing the town’s health to the extremely pernicious effects of DIOXIN has now finally been challenged in court for violating its mandate to protect the community from precisely the kind of predatory crimes against humanity routinely committed by Simpson (aka Green Diamond) with the city’s blessings.

DIOXIN: bizniz as usual

Shelton & Mason County: Gateway to Dioxin  & Industrial Blight

GaryCronce2

Mayor and Dioxin promoter in chief

The City of Shelton has never officially closed its ‘C’ Street dump after years of accepting Dioxin saturated waste from Simpson and even having been informed the timber behemoth has used the municipal sewers to dispose of its Dioxin waste. After having been caught polluting federal waterways with Dioxin by the U.S. Government, Simpson then proceeded to shift the toxic burden to Shelton’s public city dump and other unregulated ‘private’ sites near the Matlock area, et ux, as it sought a cheap but illegal means of disposing of its poisonous wastes that are as seriously toxic as the Hanford site, perhaps worse.

A handful of local citizens wouldn’t take no for an answer from their elected officials trying to dodge the issue and responsibility. Washington State’s Dept. of Ecology had offered Shelton funds to study the extent of the pollution in the city’s dump and environs. Rather than accept the gift, Cronce and the city council opined they’d rather refuse the money than possibly be held accountable for cleaning up a hole they were not only instrumental in creating, but continue to insist on digging (more incinerator permits to the very corporate dog that bit them in the 1st place). There is currently NO state sponsored mechanism for monitoring the Dioxin already present, leaching into the city harbor, or being emitted from current/future operations on the waterfront…nor are there any plans to remedy that lack of monitoring in the future or require Simpson (‘Green Diamond’) to do so.

Cronce & Co. are prime examples of the principle that in the public sector, incompetence is as pernicious as corruption. Unfortunately, we get the government we deserve. Incredibly, Cronce was recently narrowly reelected to a position he’s unqualified to hold.

Shelton easily remains the cancer capitol of Washington State.

garycronce

Herr Cronce

CITIZEN ENVIRONMENTAL LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST SHELTON

Cc: Greg Wingard
Subject: Press Release: Citizens’ Group Files Suit to Enforce Cleanup and Closure Regulations at Shelton’s Historic Town Dump

Citizens’ Group Files Suit to Enforce Cleanup and Closure Regulations

at Shelton’s Historic Town Dump

Contacts: Greg Wingard, Waste Action Project 206-849-5927 gwingard@earthlink.net

Meredith Crafton, Smith & Lowney 206-860-0858 meredithc@igc.org

December 23, 2015 (Seattle, WA) – Waste Action Project, represented by Smith & Lowney, PLLC, has filed suit against the City of Shelton, Washington to enforce closure regulations at the City’s historic C Street dump.

Owned and operated by the City of Shelton, the ‘C’ Street Dump, also known as the Shelton Landfill, began operations around 1928 at the site of a former gravel pit. The ‘C’ Street Dump is unlined and operated as an un-permitted open dump, receiving and burning industrial and municipal waste, including sewage sludge, bag house ash [primary source of DIOXIN], industrial and military chemicals, and residential waste until at least 1986.  The dump site has not been properly closed or covered violating numerous state and federal solid and hazardous waste regulations enacted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6901 et. seq. (RCRA). Toxic substances including dioxins, furans, solvents, PCB’s, acetone, petroleum products, tributyltin, pesticides, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), wood waste chemicals, and [heavy] metals (aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc) contaminate the soil and, likely, groundwater at the dump, which is located in a critical aquifer recharge area.

“With plans for the proposed Shelton Hills Development, we want to ensure the City of Shelton fulfills its obligations to protect our citizens and their children from further exposure to toxic waste dumped here for decades,” said Will Durham, Waste Action Project Member and Shelton resident.

To ensure proper closure of the toxic site, Waste Action Project filed a civil action for a declaratory and injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, and the award of costs and fees under the citizen suit provisions of RCRA, specifically Section 6972(a)(1)(A) on December 21, 2015. This action was filed in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington one year after Waste Action Project notified the City of its intent to sue to enforce closure regulations applicable to the ‘C’ Street Dump.

The Washington State Department of Ecology and the City of Shelton have recently begun a process for assessing the site and for remediation under the State Model Toxics Control Act. However, this process is notoriously slow, and both the City and Ecology have failed to acknowledge an accurate history of the site and closure requirements.

Waste Action Project is a non-profit, public interest, environmental advocacy organization with members who are concerned about the health and safety of their communities, environment, watershed, and sea life.

Greg Wingard, Executive Director of Waste Action Project, stated “After nearly 30 years of failure to meet landfill closure requirements and protect residents and the environment, it is long past time to hold Shelton responsible. That is what this litigation seeks to do. Proper closure and cleanup of this site is crucial.”

Federal Lawsuit filed against the City of Shelton—>01-0 WAP_Shelton_Complaint
(Waste Action Project v. City of Shelton)
[Case 3:15-cv-05930-JRC Document 1 Filed 12/21/15]

Meredith Crafton, Esq.
Smith & Lowney, PLLC
2317 E. John St.
Seattle, WA 98112
Office Phone: (206) 860-2883
Direct Line: (206) 805-0858
Fax: (206) 860-4187
meredithc@igc.org

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Irrational U.S. Policy Beguiled by Middle-Eastern Sycophants

Why the Russian Turkey shoot in Syria?

Vladimir Putin pulled Turkey’s covers when he accused it of shooting down a slow Russian Bomber near its border due to the wholesale funneling of money to ISIS in return for the oil ‘smuggled’ across its border. While the Russian plane may not have been a military threat to Turkey, it certainly posed  a diplomatic one. It may have been riddled with cameras. ISIS has made many enemies internationally. A nation caught doing business with them would not be applauded. It would be condemned and reviled. Yet, when news of the Parisian fatalities resulting from a well coordinated terrorist attack reached their Muslim sympathizers in Turkey, there were crowds in the Turkish streets celebrating the slaughter.

Unfortunately, the U.S. policy in the region is totally irrational, failing, as it does, to acknowledge the U.S. has (with the possible exception of Israel) NO ‘friends’ in the region. Oh sure, our purported ‘allies’ (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, etc.) fawn submissively for U.S. leaders, but ‘friends’?…’allies’? The truth is, NOBODY in the middle east has any ‘friends’ when it comes to the chaotic warfare and special interests pursued by each stakeholder.

An example of the chaotic nature of the conflict and associated intrigue is reflected in the following article:

 by Hallinan

Why did Turkey shoot down that Russian warplane?

It was certainly not because the SU-24 posed any threat. The plane is old and slow, and the Russians were careful not to arm it with anti-aircraft missiles. And it wasn’t because the Turks are quick on the trigger, either. Three years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphatically declared that a “short-term violation of airspace can never be a pretext for an attack.” There are even some doubts about whether the Russian plane ever crossed into Turkey’s airspace at all.

Indeed, the whole November 24 incident looks increasingly suspicious, and one doesn’t have to be a paranoid Russian to think the takedown might have been an ambush. As retired Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, former U.S. Air Force chief of staff, told Fox News, “This airplane was not making any maneuvers to attack the [Turkish] territory.” He called the Turkish action “overly aggressive” and concluded that the incident “had to be preplanned.”

It certainly puzzled the Israeli military, not known for taking a casual approach to military intrusions. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told the press on November 29 that a Russian warplane had violated the Israeli border over the Golan Heights. “Russian planes do not intend to attack us, which is why we must not automatically react and shoot them down when an error occurs.”

So why was the plane downed?

Perhaps because, for the first time in four years, some major players are tentatively inching toward a settlement of the catastrophic Syrian civil war, and powerful forces are maneuvering to torpedo that process. If the Russians hadn’t kept their cool, several nuclear-armed powers could well have found themselves in a scary faceoff, and any thoughts of ending the war would have gone a-glimmering.

A Short Score Card

There are multiple actors on the Syrian stage — and a bewildering number of crosscurrents and competing agendas that, paradoxically, make it both easier and harder to find common ground. Easier, because there is no unified position among the antagonists; harder, because trying to herd heavily armed cats is a tricky business.

A short score card on the players:

The Russians and the Iranians are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and fighting a host of extremist organizations ranging from al-Qaeda to the Islamic State, or ISIS. But each country has a different view of what a post-civil war Syria might look like. The Russians want a centralized and secular state with a big army. The Iranians don’t think much of “secular,” and they favor militias, not armies.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and most the other Gulf monarchies are trying to overthrow the Assad regime, and are the major supporters of the groups Russia, Iran, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are fighting. But while Turkey and Qatar want to replace Assad with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia might just hate the Brotherhood more than it does Assad. And while the monarchies are not overly concerned with the Kurds, Turkey is bombing them, and they’re a major reason why Ankara is so deeply enmeshed in Syria.

The U.S., France, and the United Kingdom are also trying to overthrow Assad, but are currently focused on fighting ISIS using the Kurds as their major allies — specifically the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party, an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish Workers Party that the U.S. officially designates as “terrorist.” These are the same Kurds that the Turks are bombing and who have a friendly alliance with the Russians.

Indeed, Turkey may discover that one of the price tags for shooting down that SU-24 is the sudden appearance of new Russian weapons for the Kurds, some of which will be aimed at the Turks.

A Suspension of Rational Thought

The Syrian war requires a certain suspension of rational thought.

For instance, the Americans are unhappy with the Russians for bombing the anti-Assad Army of Conquest, a rebel alliance dominated by the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria. That would be the same al-Qaeda that brought down the World Trade Center towers and that the U.S. is currently bombing in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

Suspension of rational thought is not limited to Syria.

A number of Arab countries initially joined the U.S. air war against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, because both organizations are pledged to overthrow the Gulf monarchies. But Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have now dropped out to concentrate their air power on bombing the Houthis in Yemen.

The Houthis, however, are by far the most effective force fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda in Yemen. Both extremist organizations have made major gains in the last few weeks because the Houthis are too busy defending themselves to take them on.

Moves Toward a Settlement

In spite of all this political derangement, however, there are several developments that are pushing the sides toward some kind of peaceful settlement that doesn’t involve regime change in Syria. That is exactly what the Turks and the Gulf monarchs are worried about, and a major reason why Ankara shot down that Russian plane.

The first of these developments has been building throughout the summer: a growing flood of Syrians fleeing the war. There are already almost 2 million in Turkey, over a million each in Jordan and Lebanon, and as many as 900,000 in Europe. Out of 23 million Syrians, some 11 million have been displaced by the war, and the Europeans are worried that many of those 11 million people will end up camping out on the banks of the Seine and the Ruhr. If the war continues into next year, that’s an entirely plausible prediction.

Hence, the Europeans have quietly shelved their demand that Assad resign as a prerequisite for a ceasefire and are leaning on the Americans to follow suit. The issue is hardly resolved, but there seems to be general agreement that Assad will at least be part of a transition government. At this point, the Russians and Iranians are insisting on an election in which Assad would be a candidate because both are wary of anything that looks like “regime change.” The role Assad might play will be a sticking point, but probably not an insurmountable one.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are adamant that Assad must go, but neither of them is in the driver’s seat these days. While NATO supported Turkey in the Russian plane incident, according to some of the Turkish press, many of its leading officials consider Erdogan a loose cannon. And Saudi Arabia — whose economy has been hard hit by the worldwide fall in oil prices — is preoccupied by its Yemen war, which is turning into a very expensive quagmire.

Russia’s Role

The second development is the Russian intervention, which appears to have changed things on the ground, at least in the north, where Assad’s forces were being hard pressed by the Army of Conquest. New weapons and airpower have dented a rebel offensive and resulted in some gains in the government’s battle for Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.

Russian bombing also took a heavy toll on the Turkmen insurgents in the Bayir-Bucak region, the border area that Turkey has used to infiltrate arms, supplies, and insurgents into Syria.

The appearance of the Russians essentially killed Turkey’s efforts to create a “no fly zone” on its border with Syria, a proposal that the U.S. has never been enthusiastic about. Washington’s major allies, the Kurds, are strongly opposed to a no fly zone because they see it as part of Ankara’s efforts to keep the Kurds from forming an autonomous region in Syria.

The Bayir-Bucak area and the city of Jarabulus are also the exit point for Turkey’s lucrative oil smuggling operation, apparently overseen by one of Erdogan’s sons, Bilal. The Russians have embarrassed the Turks by publishing satellite photos showing miles of tanker trucks picking up oil from ISIS-controlled wells and shipping it through Turkey’s southern border with Syria.

“The oil controlled by the Islamic State militants enters Turkish territory on an industrial scale,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said November 30. “We have every reason to believe that the decision to down our plane was guided by a desire to ensure the security of this oil’s delivery routes to ports.”

Erdogan and NATO

Erdogan didn’t get quite the response he wanted from NATO following the shooting down of the SU-24. While the military alliance backed Turkey’s defense of its “sovereignty,” NATO then called for a peaceful resolution and de-escalation of the whole matter.

At a time when Europe needs a solution to the refugee crisis — and wants to focus its firepower on the organization that killed 130 people in Paris — NATO cannot be happy that the Turks are dragging them into a confrontation with the Russians, making the whole situation a lot more dangerous than it was before the November 24 incident.

The Russians have now deployed their more modern SU-34 bombers and armed them with air-to-air missiles. The bombers will now also be escorted by SU-35 fighters. The Russians have also fielded S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft systems, the latter with a range of 250 miles. The Russians say they’re not looking for trouble, but they’re loaded for bear should it happen.

Would a dustup between Turkish and Russian planes bring NATO — and four nuclear armed nations — into a confrontation? That possibility ought to keep people up at night.

Coming to the Table

Sometime around the New Year, the countries involved in the Syrian civil war will come together in Geneva. A number of those will do their level best to derail the talks, but one hopes there are enough sane — and desperate — parties on hand to map out a political solution.

It won’t be easy, and who gets to sit at the table has yet to be decided. The Turks will object to the Kurds; the Russians, Iranians, and Kurds will object to the Army of Conquest; and the Saudis will object to Assad. In the end it could all come apart. It’s not hard to torpedo a peace plan in the Middle East.

But if the problems are great, failure will be catastrophic. That may be the glue that keeps the parties together long enough to hammer out a ceasefire, an arms embargo, a new constitution, and internationally supervised elections.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

She’s Got a P-E-N-I-S

He/She/They/Them…it’s all the same to him.

Don’t stress over the men’s/ladies’ room if so inclined,
Remember…today there’s a 3rd choice for those who can’t make up ‘their’ mind.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stop Worshipping Economic Growth

Capitalism (which requires an ever expanding economy according to most experts) and a sustainable environment are incompatible in a world of finite resources and 7 billion souls. In fact, modern mega-sized corporations, with the government’s tacit virtual blessings, have killed more Americans with their toxic emissions and environmental destruction by orders of magnitude than Bin Laden ever dreamed of. Yet, they are held unaccountable and remain virtually immune from prosecution for these crimes against humanity.

eco-biogrowth

brent_blackwelderby Brent Blackwelder

There are physical limits to growth on a finite planet. In 1972, the Club of Rome issued their groundbreaking report—Limits to Growth (twelve million copies in thirty-seven languages). The authors predicted that by about 2030, our planet would feel a serious squeeze on natural resources, and they were right on target.

In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Center introduced the concept of planetary boundaries to help the public envision the nature of the challenges posed by limits to growth and physical/biological boundaries. They defined nine boundaries critical to human existence that, if crossed, could generate abrupt or irreversible environmental changes.

planetbounds

Today’s global economy and the various regional and national economies regularly neglect planetary boundaries. Crossing a boundary is tantamount to crashing through a guardrail and plunging over a cliff. The blind encouragement of economic growth that does not respect these boundaries is setting up human civilizations for collapse. Two of the most harmful types of growth are ruthless and futureless.

Ruthless growth benefits a few at the top but does nothing for the middle class. One of the reasons that Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has attracted larger and larger audiences is that he says the most crucial issue facing the United States is the gross discrepancy between the middle class and the billionaire class.

Futureless growth destroys resources, such as water, forests, fisheries, and farmland that will be needed by our children and grandchildren, and by wildlife. Futureless growth directly conflicts with common family values. We tell our children to save for the future rather than squander their money. We don’t tell them to outspend their peers. We don’t tell them to judge the quality of their lives based on material possessions and quarterly financial reports.

To remain within the nine planetary boundaries, nations must shed the fetish of economic growth and transition to a true-cost, steady state economy. Some of the critical transition steps include:

  1. Replacing the GDP as a measure of well-being (lots of work has been done on coming up with an index of sustainable productivity).
  2. Getting the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to require corporations to disclose their pollution externalities (the SEC is not hopeless, as can be seen by its recent decision to require CEOs to publish their salaries along with those of the average workers at their companies).
  3. Going to a four-day work week to secure fuller employment (this has happened in some European countries; Canadian economist Peter Victor has papers on why this is a crucial transition step).
  4. Dematerializing the economy (i.e., so that it’s cheaper to repair an appliance than it is to buy a new one).
  5. Identifying the areas in which the economy should grow—and those where it should shrink or degrow (i.e., the usage of fossil fuels must shrink sharply, and in so doing, roof-top solar will grow to become a much larger part of the global economy).
  6. Identifying the most heinous types of economic growth (ruthless and futureless) and showing how their costs exceed their benefits.
  7. Stabilizing population to keep humanity from further transgression of the nine boundaries.

There are about seven billion people on earth today, and forecasts indicate there will be nine billion by 2050. Already, almost one billion malnourished people are feeling the squeeze, as they painfully bear testimony to the truth of what Malthus predicted two centuries ago. Key first steps to stabilizing population in a progressive way are:

  1. Empowerment of women. [assumption: Women who enjoy equal rights and prosperity won’t want children, or at least as many as their poorer sisters? There are also some hidden but sobering implications about human rights and privacy from government intrusion embedded in this issue.]
  2. Requiring all foreign assistance to be designed so that women will be better off as a result. [The devil is in the details and the road to Hell is paved with good intentions!]
  3. Making contraceptives widely available. [See #1]

Our global economy is treating the planet as if it were a business in a liquidation sale. Even environmental organizations—devoted to environmental protection— have been slow to acknowledge the major causes of environmental degradation, such as perverse economic incentives encouraging raw resource extraction and non-renewable energy use. We need environmental leaders to speak out for a new, just, and true-cost economy; and to challenge the mindless embracing of economic growth—even ruthless and futureless growth. Environmental leaders should be driving the push toward refocusing economic thinking on the changes that we will have to make if we are going to move to a healthier economy that exists within the nine planetary boundaries. Only if humanity stays within these nine boundaries can it continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Innocent Longview Man Released After Years In Prison

‘Stolen Years’: New book tells story of wrongfully imprisoned Longview man

Despite the legal fiction of presumed innocence, the injustice of imprisoning the innocent–our very own modern ‘witch hunts’–continues unabated in shocking numbers.

In the  Dark Ages, the thief and the murderer were as likely to suffer the same fate as their 18th century counterparts. The loss of life had dual purpose, as punishment and as an offering to appease the gods. Alas for the victim, human sacrifice was frequently carried out in a hideously savage manner.

Even when Christianity spread across the globe, there was little respite from the bloodshed–perhaps the opposite. The Romans vied with their barbarian neighbors for new and agonizing methods of death, creating a wealth of martyrs in the process.

The gods (and today, the self-righteous) demanded a heavy toll from their earthly followers, human fodder was needed — and who better to pay the ultimate price than felons and thieves? While today, Americans take solace in the theory of separation between Church and State, few seem aware of how the state has virtually substituted itself as a ‘god’ in its own right as they pledge allegiance (worship?) to the flag or hear a judge pronounce they must ignore the principle of jury nullification in finding a defendant guilty no matter how unjust the law or its application, or, indeed, forgetting the very principles of the post WWII Nuremberg trials where we executed condemned Nazis who unsuccessfully argued they were only following the law at the time of their offenses and crimes against humanity.

In the Dark Ages, the ‘erring’ (Galileo?) would find themselves sentenced to death by way of human sacrifice. At the time, it was seen as the best hope of a good harvest (or ‘deterrent’ in modern times) and cure for disease.

Every age had its own method of sacrifice. Given the evidence available today, it is difficult to asses whether all sacrifices were carried out as punishment or whether some died willingly, as messengers to the gods. It is equally hard to tell from excavated corpses whether mutilations took place before death by sacrifice, or after as part of a funeral rite.

The Celts had hundreds of gods to worship. Some were considered greater than others (felonies vs. misdemeanors/infractions?) although only a few had specific purposes, for example, for war, fertility or cure. Julius Caesar noted of the Celts: “They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods (Justice?), but when the supply of such fails, they resort to the execution of the innocent.”

Scores of ‘wrongdoers’ were engulfed in flames after being caged in a giant wicker colossus as the Celts imposed a terrifying regime of ‘justice’ under the auspices of the Druids. Alternatively, Celts might shoot victims with arrows or impale them at the chosen holy site. In common with other races, the Celts also burned their sacrifices. Humans were committed to the flames in a giant wicker cage in the form of a god. Dozens of young people might be crammed into such a colossus before a spark ignited the pyre. In attendance were the Druids, the highly organized priest and soothsayer network which inspired the Celts in France, Britain, and Ireland at the time–the equivalents of our prosecutors/persecutors and judges today.

**********************************************************************

ReuvenFenton

Reuven Fenton, author

by Marissa Luck

Thomas Kennedy isn’t the only innocent man in the new book “Stolen Years,” but his story may be the saddest.

Author Reuven Fenton devoted an 8,000 word chapter to exploring Kennedy’s story in the book “Stolen Years: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned,” to be released Tuesday.

Kennedy was convicted in 2001 of raping his daughter, then 11, but she later admitted making it all up, prompting the court to toss his conviction. He was exonerated and released from prison in 2012.

ThomasKennedyx

“Thomas Kennedy is a very  unique case,” Fenton said by phone Saturday. “It’s enough to go to prison for a crime you didn’t commit, but to go to prison for that particular reason is just so horrifying.”

Fenton has covered murder and scandal for the last eight years at the New York Post. In recent years, he’s watched the number of exonerations climb steadily in his state. Once, he attended a press conference for David Ranta, a man who was freed from prison and exonerated in 2013, after serving 23 years of a 37.5 year sentence for the murder of a Brooklyn rabbi. At the press conference, Fenton recalled reporters peppering Ranta with questions like, “What will be your first meal out of prison?” and “What’s the first thing you’ll do when you’re free?”

SueBaur

Cowlitz County Prosecutor Sue Baur

“I was thinking, this guy had a 20-year long story to tell, and we’re just scratching the surface,” Fenton said. That sent him on a quest to uncover the stories of other wrongfully imprisoned men and women.

After combing through 1600 cases listed with the National Registry of Exonerations, Fenton whittled the cases down to a pool of ten people, including Kennedy. A Cowlitz County lawyer put the two in contact, but at first Kennedy resisted the idea. Eventually his “no comment” turned into an interview, and Kennedy opened up, spending ten to 12 hours with Fenton to tell his story.

CassandraKennedy

Cassandra

Unlike many cases of people who were exonerated, Kennedy didn’t have the help of an organization or lawyer to prove his innocence. After years of filing appeals, the Longview man finally gave up.

“He took this stack of papers and set them down and said, ‘I’m leaving it up to God,’ because the process was just so frustrating for him,” Fenton said. Then, “out of the blue” his mother called him, asked if he was sitting down, and told him his daughter was ready to recant her story.

Yet even after being released, Kennedy suffered from ongoing trauma related to his experience in prison, where he was the target of frequent attacks. Besides the emotional baggage, he barely had enough money to scrape by. At the time when Fenton interviewed him in early 2014, Kennedy was waking up at the crack of dawn to buy and sell wooden pallets, and some days he didn’t make enough money to cover his gas.

Last year, he was slated to receive a $500,000 settlement from the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act, but the money had been tied up in state budget talks earlier this year. Kennedy told The Daily News he planned to use funds to invest in his grandson’s future, buy land and start a business.

“Thomas, to me, is an example that you can go on living after suffering something that horrific, humiliating and devastating,” Fenton said.

Kennedy and the other nine people in “Stolen Years” are but a tiny fraction of the wrongfully imprisoned people in the U.S. An estimated 2.5 to 5 percent of prisoners are innocent, which means up 100,000 innocent people are behind bars, Fenton said.

“The problem is that there is a culture of police and prosecutors with this desire to win at all costs,” he said. For some prosecutors and detectives, it becomes a numbers game of filling quotas, he added.

That’s starting to change now though, as public awareness grows.

In 1989, the year the University of Michigan Law School started the National Registry of Exoneration, there were just 22 people exonerated, according to the registry. That number grew to 139 last year.

“I think we’re in the midst of that change now, but we’re still very early,” Fenton said.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

9th Circuit rules Fair Use trumps DMCA

Dancing Baby case: Lenz v. Universal

Federal Court Ruling Marks Win for Fair Use in ‘Dancing Baby’ Case

‘Ruling sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech.’

dancingbaby

Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruling says the copyright-holder must first consider whether video content amounts to “fair use” of their work, making it eligible to be legally posted.

With a highly-anticipated ruling in what has become known as the “dancing-baby case” delivered on Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the importance of allowing for the “brief, non-commercial use” of copyrighted material by saying copyright holders must consider whether or not such use would be considered ‘Fair Use’ before issuing takedown notices to third-party hosting platforms like YouTube or social media outfits.

Officially called Lenz v. Universal, the case centers around Stephanie Lenz, who in 2007 posted a YouTube video of her two young children dancing while a song performed by Prince, and owned by the Universal Music Group, played in the background. Universal issued a takedown notice to YouTube and charged that Lenz had violated copyright law by posting the video.

With her case taken up by the legal team at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group based in San Francisco, the case quickly became a touchstone for various legal interpretations of copyright law and arguments surrounding censorship and the fair usedoctrine.

In siding with Lenz, the court issued a decision that may have far-reaching implications by ruling that copyright holders “must consider the existence of fair use before sending a takedown notification.”

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Recording companies, motion picture studios and other copyright owners issue numerous takedown notices each day, targeting everything from home videos to campaign ads that include segments of songs or newscasts. When a copyright-holder tells a website like YouTube that one of its postings violates the holder’s exclusive rights to license the material, federal law requires that the posting be removed immediately.

But the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the copyright-holder must first consider whether such a video amounts to “fair use” of the work, making it eligible to be legally posted. Fair use includes journalistic accounts and criticism, educational uses for teaching or research, and brief, private postings that don’t damage the commercial market for the work.

The law “requires copyright-holders to consider fair use before sending a takedown notification,” and those that fail to do so can be held liable for damages, said Judge Richard Tallman in the 3-0 ruling, the first on the issue by any appeals court.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “We’re pleased that the court recognized that ignoring fair use rights makes content holders liable for damages.”

According to EFF, the ruling in the Lenz case comes at a critical time as heated political campaigns—specifically the current presidential primaries—will likely lead to a rash of copyright takedown abuse. As the group notes, criticism of politicians often includes short clips of campaign appearances in order to make arguments to viewers, and broadcast networks, candidates, and other copyright holders have sometimes misused copyright law in order to remove, or stall, such criticism from appearing on the Internet.

“The decision made by the appeals court today has ramifications far beyond Ms. Lenz’s rights to share her video with family and friends,” said McSherry. “We will all watch a lot of online video and analysis of presidential candidates in the months to come, and this ruling will help make sure that information remains uncensored.”

Journalist Joe Mullin, writing for Ars Technica, says the Ninth Circuit’s opinion could strengthen the legal position of fair use advocates in other cases, but also noted it should not be considered a total victory when it comes to all the ways large media companies deal with copyright and takedown notices. Mullin explains:

The DMCA takedown landscape today is very different from 2007, when Universal and other big copyright holders were essentially doing takedowns manually. Today, DMCA notices are automated, and large copyright holders demand that thousands of links be removed at a time. Internet sites like Google remove millions of URLs each year in response to these massive DMCA notices.

The judges are optimistic that computer-driven copyright policing could strike the right balance. “We note, without passing judgment, that the implementation of computer algorithms appears to be a valid and good faith middle ground for processing a plethora of content while still meeting the DMCA’s requirements to somehow consider fair use,” Tallman writes. In situations where a video and audio track matches “nearly the entirety” of a sample submitted by copyright owners, a computer program could still be thought to have taken fair use into account. Copyright owners could use human employees “to review the minimal remaining content a computer program does not cull,” he suggests.

The majority’s near-endorsement of mass takedown routines is telling. While today’s ruling undoubtedly strengthens EFF’s view of fair use, it’s unlikely to change much about the millions of takedown notices now being sent each year to Internet intermediaries. It’s still a system that won’t leave much room for those rare situations where a complete copy can still be fair use. If YouTube lawyers think their filter already takes fair use into account, and they likely do, then this ruling won’t make them change anything.

And, of course, here’s the dancing baby:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wrong Password Blues!

Latino version of Wrong Password

The Google Blues (live!)

Better Recorded Version of Google Blues by Rich Lyon and DelGrosso

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment